136) Day 17 at the KFF

June 9, 2007

Kerrville Dialysis Center:
Even though I left the ranch late this morning at 5:15 a.m. I still arrive here at 5:30 on the dot. And then I wait in the waiting room for 20 minutes before they come to get me for my session. (At El Milagro we just walk in and casually go to our chair, or one of the techs or nurses points out our chair. Since it is always a good idea to see if the dialyzer is yours, it’s a good idea for you to look yourself.) Here in K-ville they are much more formal, and have a nice new place, and everything is clean and sterile. And you wait in the waiting room like you’re at a doctor’s office and it you can’t just walk in and find your seat. Its more medical, but, the workers aren’t as well-trained or professional; or maybe they just don’t have as much experience. Not the nurse. The nurse is a black woman from somewhere in the Caribbean, judging from her accent, and she seems very professional and on top of her act. Watching her guiding the others and their going to her with all sorts of easy questions that any tech should know about setting these machines, I can tell they don’t really know, nor are they confident in their actions. Today I have Barbara, who doesn’t know anything about folk or singer/songwriter music and only slightly more about sticking patients, it seems. She is very tentative and I have to encourage her all along the way. She makes a few slip-ups in the steps which complicates her procedure. When I am hooked up she goes to the nurse to ask several questions about setting my machine. I ask Barbara, in a casual, sort of ‘make conversation way’, if the Hispanic guy, Johnny Mata, ever went to the festival last weekend, and she replies, “Nah… he always says he’s gonna do something and then just ends up cruising around town.” I reply that that’s too bad since Judy Collins was really something to see. And she goes on to say that she hasn’t lived in K-ville that long but she hears that the folk festival is “fun”. I reply that it is also a great way to hear some excellent musicians and then we talk a bit about what Austin is like. Talking helps calm Barbara down and she actually does an okay job of sticking me. After I’m all hooked up I want to go back to sleep so I pull my hat down over my eyes, turn on my radio to San Antonio’s NPR station, and try to sleep. The center’s radio is tuned to “the Ranch”, the pop country station here and I think that if they don’t even listen to KFAN (all Texas music) they probably won’t get excited about the festival. I doze. The guy next to me is the ‘bad attitude’ patient I’ve seen every time I’m here. He seems mad at the world; has lost a leg to diabetes, has his other leg all lizard skinned and pealing, and gruffly talks to the staff making demands and cursing under his breath. He is the one who pulls a black blanket up over his head and stretches it so it looks like a shroud stretched over a round topped telephone pole. Then he never moves a muscle until the end of his treatment, when he emerges all squinty-eyed and mean. I feel for him. It is amazing that there aren’t more patients like this guy… for some of these folks their lives are just a series of steps down into oblivian (a word that I hear in several of this weekend’s singers).

I sleep soundly for about two and a half hours and then awaken to someone yelling out in pain, probably from cramping. It’s 9 something and I wish for more sleep but the lights are bright and I look around and see all the other people and start wondering about them. Several retired folks with khaki’s and polo shirts, one truck-driver looking man who is has that barrel-chested look of truckers. Several overweight women who look like they have wildly swollen ankles, and one very businessy looking guy who is working on his laptop and reading the New York times at the same time! He has a plaid button down shirt on and looks like he just came from his office in the bank building…. In Saturday business dress. He keeps his tassle loafers on during dialysis and seems very adjusted to this necessity for productive living. Some people are watching their TV’s that swing around from behind them to within 5 inches of their noses and they look like Mr. Magoo’s peering into their tubes from so close it casts an eerily ghostly light across their faces.

Quiet Valley Ranch: At 10:15 I’m outa there and drive back to the ranch and arrive in time to find a good parking space and hike over to the kitchen in time to have pancakes and turkey sausage. I walk through the breakfast line, which is weird cause I’m usually working and just as I get to the hotel pan of banana pancakes which I can’t have, I say, “You got any regulars?” and Andrea turns around from the griddle and plops two on a plate and I’m surprised and amazed at her timing. I get my cakes and go out to eat and Lizzie joins me, taking a break from making coffee. I’m famished so breakfast is a welcome feast.

I do my shift after Shabbat services where Rabbi Kerri talks about tzedakah (not Neal*) and giving 1% more than is required and then I go to make about 1001 chocolate chip cookies. I’m on that kitchen krew with Julie and Mona and Mona rushes through the whole process without much thought about quality (More about Mona reported by The Austinist**) and Julie wants to finish to be done (going as far as to find tubs to put the cooked cookies in rather than waiting for Cari to find the big rectangular box I remember from years past). Charlie pops into the kitchen and falls into helping and making jokes. I’m happy he stopped in because it feels a bit disorganized until he gets there and the result of his showing up is that I don’t care so much about working with this krew. As we plop dough down on aluminum sheets and all three of us are baking them in the convection oven, I am still pondering tzedakah, giving, and being of service in general. Charlie gives completely when he is around, zipping around and doing whatever needs doing. This is giving from the heart. With three of us putting in sheets and keeping time and bringing ‘em out to cool, it is amazing we don’t burn more, but I manage to burn a few trays. After Julie leaves and Cari comes in and shows us which boxes she wants them in, we re-box the cookies and Charlie eats cookie dough and I eat crispy over-done cookies until both of us are a little sugar-hyped and saying silly elegies for the cookies. I note here that Charlie has memorized more tidbits from early 60’s TV than anyone I know, and I note to myself that he must’ve spent a lot of time watching the tube.

When we’re done with the cookies I trek down to the tent and take an after-dialysis nap. Liz and the kids are down the road a ways with Theresa using a Wet Willie*** that Bobby built at a guy’s lake. I sleep with a slight breeze flowing over me and am pleased at the angle we set the tent, since the light breeze comes right through and is cooling. Actually, the tent has been really comfortable this year and I think Liz is over the pop-up. Sometime later the girls show back up and we all get ready to go to a catfish fry at the Bobby-Thomas-Mitch campsite on the lower high road.

Later still we hear great music from Tom Russell**** and Bob Livingston*****.

I must report it is much better being able to get dialysized here in Kerrville! The last weekend includes great music, relaxing visits with friends, enjoyable work on the Kitchen Krew, and fun watching the little girls get older and bolder in their festival exploring. All in all, another wonderful Kerrville Home vacation.

Notes: In at 74.2 and out at 71.2 Kgs.
New Readers: For A Welcome Post, click August 2006 on the Sidebar.
*Neal Sedaka, retrieved online June 2007 from the official website;
**The Austinist, retrieved 0nline June 2007 from http://www.austinist.com/archives/2007/05/30/austinist_at_the_kerrville_folk_festival.php - 39k
***Wet Willie, retrieved online June 2007 from the official website; http://www.wetwillieslides.com/index.php
****Tom Russell, retrieved online June 2007 from the official website;
*****Bob Livingston, retrieved online June 2007 from the official website; http://www.texasmusic.org/

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